The Steelers will go several games without one of their starting defensive end for the second time in two seasons.
KDKA Radio in Pittsburgh is reporting Monday afternoon that defensive end Brett Keisel will be out two months
after suffering a calf injury in Sunday's 10-6 win over Cleveland.
The team hasn't confirmed this, but coach Mike Tomlin usually won't discuss injuries until his Tuesday press conference.
He left with an injury in the first half, and did not return. Nick Eason was his replacement, and likely will inherit the starting position.
The team lost DE Aaron Smith last season, and their run defense fell apart. It culminated in four losses in their last five games.
Coincidentally, Pittsburgh lost a starting defensive lineman, nose tackle Casey Hampton, two weeks before the team played Philadelphia in 2004. The Steelers inserted Chris Hoke and Travis Kirschke into situations, and were the top-ranked defense in the NFL.
One of the biggest question marks going into this season was the depth of their defensive line. Depending on the severity of the injury, Keisel could be placed on injured-reserve, which would end his season, and clear a roster spot. But if KDKA's report is accurate, and he is out two months, the Steelers may be forced to release someone, or elevate a lineman from the practice squad, where NT John Paxon, a second-year player from Penn State, is the only defensive lineman.
The Steelers cut DE Ryan McBean, a fourth-round draft pick in 2007, this pre-season. He's currently with Denver's practice squad. By rule, teams are allowed to sign players from other teams' practice squads if they are placed on the active roster. The Steelers would have to release someone if they are going to sign on another player to the active roster.